Pope Benedict: All Christians Must Work Together to Evangelize the World

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2012 / 12:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians must not allow their divisions to keep them from working together to evangelize a world enduring a “crisis of faith,” Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

The failure to do so, he said, “goes against the will of Christ, and is a scandal in the world.”

The council, which is meeting Nov. 15 –19, will address the theme of “The Importance of Ecumenism for New Evangelization.” The theme dovetails with the topic of overcoming Christian divisions, which was widely-discussed topic at last month’s synod of bishops on the New Evangelization.

Speaking in the Clementine Room of the Apostolic Palace on Nov. 15, the Pope stressed the necessity of having theological dialogue with Christians who do not hold the Catholic faith, in order to give a credible witness to Christ in a world suffering a crisis of faith and spiritual poverty.

“Even if we do not see the possibility of the restoration of full communion in the near future, (other faiths) enable us to understand the wealth of experience, spiritual life and theological reflections that become a stimulus for a deeper testimony,” the Pope said.

The aim of ecumenism is a “visible unity between divided Christians,” he told the assembly, and the Lord must be invoked to make even an imperfect unity possible.

And even if Christians’ unity is imperfect, it is still needed to evangelize a culture gone awry, especially in the Western world.

“We cannot follow a truly ecumenical path while ignoring the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries,” he told council members.

The situation has grown so bad that many people no longer regard the absence of God in their lives as a vacuum to be filled. This presents a situation all Christians must address, discovering common ground that overcomes their denominational divisions.

The essential unity of Christians needs to be emphasized in order to bear witness to God before the world. This, he said, consists in faith in the Trinity – a faith received at baptism which all Christians can profess together “in hope and charity.”

A truly ecumenical spirit, the Pope noted toward the end of his remarks, demands abandonment to the will of God in order to bring others to belief in him.

“In the final analysis,” Pope Benedict concluded, “ecumenism and new evangelization both require the dynamism of conversion, understood as the sincere desire to follow Christ and to fully adhere to the will of the Father.” (Read more here.)

  • http://jobowerwrites.wordpress.com Jo Randall Bower

    This is the truth of today’s church, and we have a long way to go to get this work done. God help and give us wisdom to come together.

  • Bill S

    Hi, I’m back. I know I will draw strong opposition, and maybe even censorship, but I have to put in my two cents. The Pope talks about evangelization and ecumenicism at a time when many people have had quite enough of the Catholic Church and its attempts to sway the elections at the national and state levels. The Church is against abortion at any stage of pregnancy (even the day after a sex act), birth control, in-vitro fertilization, stem cell research, same sex marriage, pre-marital sex, cloning, and the list goes on. The Church is racked with corruption in the Vatican and the Vatican Bank and with child sexual abuse scandals and it treats many nuns in the United States like they are somehow defying its authority by working on social justice issues instead of fighting abortion and gay marriage. I think the Church has a lot of reforming to do before it can reach out to other denominations or gain more converts. That’s just my opinion. Those who know anything about me know that I am a Catholic who has adopted the New Atheism and that has had a direct impact on my attitude toward the Church. But I believe I am just calling a spade a spade.

    • Ted Seeber

      “The Pope talks about evangelization and ecumenicism at a time when many people have had quite enough of the Catholic Church and its attempts to sway the elections at the national and state levels.”

      Exactly the need for evangelization, because the Church has done neither; the Church has only opposed the lies of those who DO attempt to sway the elections at the national and state levels.

      “The Church is against abortion at any stage of pregnancy (even the day after a sex act)”

      Yes. As should be anybody who admits to reality instead of lies- that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with actually understanding biology.

      “birth control”

      See the immediate previous articles on several non-religious reasons why any good feminist atheist should oppose birth control.

      ” in-vitro fertilization”

      Comes from science again and the problems with this method.

      ” stem cell research”

      The Church doesn’t oppose stem cell research. The church opposes chopping up people as spare parts. There is a huge difference. Embryonic stem cell research is useless anyway.

      “same sex marriage”

      Which harms homosexuals, directly, and is a sign of hatred and bigotry.

      “pre-marital sex”

      aka rape.

      “cloning”

      Identity theft.

      Gee, do you have anything you are for that isn’t irrational?

  • Bill S

    Ted,

    I don’t think that even the Church would agree with your item-by-item response. Most of it makes no sense whatsoever.

    There’s nothing wrong with taking preventive measures to avoid pregnancy even the day after sex but the Church teaches otherwise. Thankfully, we live in a country that has it right.

    “same sex marriage” Which harms homosexuals, directly, and is a sign of hatred and bigotry. Seriously? The hatred and bigotry is from the anti-gay side.

    “pre-marital sex” aka rape. What are you talking about?

    “cloning” Identity theft. No. That’s not cloning. That is something totally different.

    The Church hates the personal freedoms that this great nation secures for its citizens. If the Church had its way in this country it would be like living under the Taliban. It tries its best to control people and no one is listening to it anymore.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, I’m not in the mood for argument just for the sake of argument and disagreeableness for the sake of being disagreeable. Do you have something to say about this post that is actually salient to the post, or do you just want to re-hash your complaints about the Church?

      Frankly, I find your comparison of the Church with the Taliban over the top and offensive. I don’t remember hearing of the Church beheading people or bombing bus loads of school children.

      • Bill S

        Sorry, Taliban was the wrong example because of its extremes. I mean’t having religious laws codified into government laws. You covered that quite well in your discussion of the Irish Constitution. My bad.

        • Ted Seeber

          All governmental laws were once religious laws. The current set of what we consider secular in the United States is Freemasonry.

          • Bill S

            Freemasonry is not a religion. George Washington and Ben Franklin were Freemasons. I suppose that makes them evil.

            • Ted Seeber

              From a Catholic standpoint that objective morality exists, YES.

              I can no longer justify the US Constitution under Catholic Morality. Unlike you- I choose the more perfect form, but you would deny me even that choice.

    • Ted Seeber

      My item by item response has more reason behind it than your dissent from these teachings that has no reason behind it whatsoever.

      Preventing a pregnancy after sex is murder, when viewed objectively and without religion.

      Same-sex marriage is about lust, not love, and objectively harming the other person, even without considering religion. George Weinberg was just a patsy paid to falsify reports, homophobia doesn’t exist and is objectively a lie. All homosexual sex is rape.

      Pre-marital sex is also about rape- it’s about using another person’s body for your own pleasure. For that matter, all non-procreative sex is a form of rape from that standpoint. Consent has nothing to do with it because the definition of consent is worthless.

      Cloning is identity theft- it is taking the genetic identity of one individual and giving it to another individual.

      You claim the Church hates “personal freedoms”, but so do you. After all, you object to the personal freedom of your neighbor to shoot a missile into your house and blow up your family, don’t you?

      • Bill S

        I mean personal freedoms that don’t hurt anyone. Your attitudes toward preventing pregnancy, same sex marriage, pre-marital sex, cloning and personal freedom are all narrow-minded and lack supporting evidence. You live in a free country but to you we need all these restrictions. I blame the Church for making you see life that way. You can’t handle freedom.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Bill, can you phrase your opinions in a way that doesn’t involve insulting Ted?

          • Bill S

            I’m not trying to insult Ted. I am just trying to get him to look at the world from a different perspective. The Catholic Church provides one of many ways of looking at life. It took me a long time to come to that conclusion. People who think that it is “my way or the highway” with “my way” being based solely on “Church Teaching” need to lighten up and Ted seems to be one of those people. I know that he is a Grand Knight and he knows that I would be booted out of the K of C for openly stating my opinions so I state them on anonymous blogs. There is no glorious martyrdom for a closet atheist. I have appreciated Ted’s feedback but I feel obliged to point out where I think he is wrong (such as when he says something like “pre-marital sex aka rape”). I don’t get to do that with my Grand Knight but I enjoy being part of an organization that does so much good. If I continue to feel the way I presently feel, maybe I will look elsewhere. Maybe the Freemasons. Who knows. Haven’t got there yet.

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              Disagree with his views Bill. Be gentle with Ted himself.

            • Ted Seeber

              To me, I have looked at those other perspectives, and like the so-called “personal freedoms that harm none”, I find them to be highly irrational.

              I was like you Bill, 20 years ago in college. I didn’t become a Knight because of those views for several decades, though I did volunteer with the organization.

              I say these views are irrational because I have tried them, and found them to be extremely irrational.

              I haven’t gone 4th Degree with the Knights of Columbus precisely because I’m having problems reconciling Patriotism with Catholicism in a country with a disordered definition of liberty. I may never go 4th Degree because of that.

              • Bill S

                “I haven’t gone 4th Degree with the Knights of Columbus precisely because I’m having problems reconciling Patriotism with Catholicism in a country with a disordered definition of liberty. I may never go 4th Degree because of that.”

                I faced the same dilemma but I am glad I did the 4th Degree. You should do it too. It is hard to reconcile the two but life is full of conflicting demands. To me it is the difference between a country that tries to guarantee as much freedom that it can to its citizens and an oppressive Church hierarchy that tries to control people’s minds and behavior.

                The Patriots rebelled from oppression and this country has continued on that path. The Church will control people to the extent that people will obey. They have no choice but to rebel. It is liberating to know that and confining not to know it.

                • Ted Seeber

                  The problem is more that I don’t see anything good coming out of being liberated.

                  Yes, the Church Hierarchy is controlling, but every time I look into things that it is controlling about, things I am tempted to rebel against, I am faced with the fact that there have been Catholic societies that have tried those things and those societies experienced more misery and destruction than the societies that didn’t.

                  I really want somebody to form a commune/neighborhood based on the Rule of St. Benedict for a HOA. I was very against HOAs when I was looking for a house to buy 15 years ago; now I see how they can bring Order to Chaos (and freedom, at least as defined by Americans, is indeed Chaotic).

                  People’s minds and behavior need to be controlled; the only other option is the anarchy of mob rule.

        • Ted Seeber

          “I mean personal freedoms that don’t hurt anyone. ”

          Abortion hurts the mother, and kills the child, so don’t try to lie to me about that.

          “Your attitudes toward preventing pregnancy, same sex marriage, pre-marital sex, cloning and personal freedom are all narrow-minded and lack supporting evidence. ”

          There is more supporting evidence for them than for your claim that preventing pregnancy, same-sex marriage, pre-marital sex, cloning, and other forms of “personal freedom” harm nobody.

          • Bill S

            Ted,

            These come down to specific cases but for the most part the things I am talking about pertain to personal choices that should rest with the individual, not the Church or the State.

            I hope you don’t feel that you are not patriotic enough to become a 4th degree Knight. I think you love your country and it is OK that you have problems with its government. Just about all the Knights do. I’m sure I was one of the only candidates that was voting the way I was. That’s what is so great about living in a free country.

            • Ted Seeber

              I love my State. Maybe not even my state- in my youth I supported Cascadia Separatism, and still lean that way a bit in my personal economics (trying my best not to buy from any company headquartered east of the Rockies and sometimes even east of the Cascades).

              I’m not at all sure I love my country. In fact, I am beginning to strongly resent federalism.

              But given what you’ve said, I may still try the 4th Degree. If I ever get rich enough again to afford it (I know, I can always rent the tux, but until my son is past the complications of his special needs and I have my CPAP paid off, the additional $15/year dues + $150-$200 for chapeau, cape, and sword even on ebay is more burden than I can handle).

  • http://heartfulmemories@wordpress.com janice oliver

    Like the Pope, we at our southern baptist church have been deep in talk about how to bring Christians together for the common cause of much needed evangelism in the world. We as Christians need to put ourselves further out there and spread God’s word and love and give more people a chance at salvation. After all it is our duty as disciples of Christ to do so. Thank you for sharing this article Rebecca. Jan
    “Don’t forget to pray today, God didn’t forget to wake you this morning.”

  • Sus

    I’m not sure if this is exactly what the Pope is talking about but I do think it’s Christians working together. My little town decided that we couldn’t afford to light up the town common and other decorations around town for Christmas. The 3 Pastors in town – Catholic, United Church of Christ and Methodist – got together and agreed to pay for the electricity and labor for the lights on the town common and the labor for the other decorations.

    They also said they are going to pay for the labor to put the flags up throughout the year when appropriate.

    I think it’s great that the 3 churches got together to do something good for the town. Everyone benefits no matter what your faith and politics are.

  • http://www.Devotions4Him.com Jennifer

    I can’t wait for the day when THE Church works together in the “Bond of peace and unity of the Spirit” I know it’s possible, I believe with all of my heart that it’s coming soon. Unfortunately hard times tend to cause people to work together. I think that’s what it’s going to take.
    Personally, I love reading this blog -though I don’t visit every day I do as often as I can. I’m not Catholic however as I said before I can recognize a sister (or brother) in Christ. I may not adhere to certain Catholic practices or what have you but if Jesus is your Lord and Savior then that’s what is most important. Just because a belief system is different that shouldn’t cause a chasm that can’t/won’t be crossed. These are not just religious quips either, I mean it. We have to decide what’s really important. Do I want to be right about everything or do I want to work with other brothers and sisters to touch as many people for Jesus as possible? If I would have skipped reading this blog because Mrs. Hamilton is Catholic I would have missed a tremendous blessing. In fact, one of the greatest blessings about starting my own blog was finding this one. I don’t know, I think we spend too much time discussing issues and not on what’s truly important. People will always be the most important. Jesus didn’t die for a political system, He died for people.


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